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Document Type

Article

Abstract

This paper asks whether voters’ job approval ratings of governors affect state legislator perceptions of gubernatorial influence in the legislative process. This question is a departure from existing research on job approval ratings as a legislative resource in two senses. First, most existing research focuses on presidents; there is much less research on governors, who are studied in this paper. Second, existing research looks at success rates, such as the percentage of roll call votes that the president’s or governor’s side won. Success rate measures may be biased in several ways. One, many presidential and gubernatorial policy proposals do not make it to the floor for a vote. Two, presidents and governors may be strategic in taking positions on legislation, for instance, they may not take positions when they think they will be defeated. Legislator perceptions of influence may help overcome these limitations of success rates. The data for this paper come from a national survey of state legislators conducted in 1995. Results suggest that legislators perceive popular governors as being more influential than less popular ones, but only in the lower, not the upper, legislative chamber.

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